Energized Obama pays respects in Lisbon
LISBON -- An all-night flight to the NATO summit here seemed to have boosted President Obama's spirits after the post-election doldrums in Washington. Obama waved as he bounded down the stairs of Air Force One and strode through a Portuguese honor guard toward Foreign Minister Luis Amado, then stopped for a snapshot with Amado's daughter, Carolina.
First stop of the afternoon, after a motorcade through rainy and heavily secured empty streets, was the presidential palace, with another honor guard and a grip-and-grin for the cameras with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva. As the press was ushered out, one president invited the other to visit Chicago.
Talk during the hour-and-a-half-long presidential lunch likely centered on Portugal's economic problems -- which approach Ireland's level of difficulty -- and NATO's plans to approve a new mission statement later in the day.
As Obama's motorcade raced through the city, the local press devoted extensive attention to the presidential automobile -- the eight-ton, armored "Beast" that follows him around the world. European leaders, in contrast, zipped from the airport and hotels to the summit site at Lisbon's International Fairgrounds in hybrids and electric vehicles.
For his next stop, Obama's behemoth maneuvered through the narrow, cobbled streets of old Lisbon to the office of Prime Minister Jose Socrates. Once again, he and his host talked dollars and euros.
"These are obviously difficult times," Obama said.
Finally, he made his way to the summit, where the first order of NATO business was a group photo with the heads of the alliance's 27 other member governments. After a closed-door meeting to finalize the joint vision statement for the 21st century, the leaders will hold a working dinner.
On Saturday morning, the summit is scheduled to hear from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S.-NATO commander. In the afternoon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will attend a session of the NATO-Russia Council.
Medvedev's presence will undoubtedly draw Obama's attention back to Washington, where Senate Republicans this week rejected lame-duck action on a new START treaty with Russia.
| November 19, 2010; 12:26 PM ET
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